How do you play retro games?

Dragon Quest VI: Maboroshi no Daichi (SNES)

Published by
Developed by
Released
Platform
...
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.5
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Katharian Berg (19)
Written on  :  Jun 08, 2011
Rating  :  1 Stars1 Stars1 Stars1 Stars1 Stars

2 out of 6 people found this review helpful

write a review of this game
read more reviews by Katharian Berg

Summary

Unnecessarily boring

The Good

Dragon Quest VI (DQ6) definitely has something going for it: music and graphics. The music is Dragon Quest style, very classical and always fits the mood. It doesn’t distract and manages to create the feeling of a mythical land far far away. There could be a little more variety from time to time, but in general there’s really no need to complain.

The graphics look great (though they are a matter of taste). Bright colours were used for most places. The style they used is a tiny bit washy, has a touch of impressionism (I know, I’m crazy). Monster graphics are well done too. They actually move when they attack and their cartoonish look fits. The story is solid. It has some JRPG clichés and ends with a Stop Bad Dude From Taking Over Universe quest, but there are some unexpected twists and interesting character backgrounds. There is a lot of variety in characters too (you are even joined by wacky guys like a Slime Knight).

There is also a class system. You give your characters a class, and by fighting strong monsters, they gain new skills and abilities. Once they master more than one class, they can choose from so-called hybrid classes combining aspects of two basic classes. This helps to individualize each character a bit and influence their role in combat.

The Bad

Despite all the good things mentioned above, Dragon Quest VI is deeply flawed. The menu sucks! I can’t describe it more politely. Remember that menu system from DQ1? Where you always had to select “Talk” to talk to a character, even tough there wasn’t anything else you could actually do with that character? That system is still there. They didn’t update it during the first decade of DQ games. Seriously, what the hell? Final Fantasy II (the NES game) had a better interface! This makes everything, from equipping character to fighting to buying a potion extremely tedious. By the way, don’t think you can buy more than one item at a time.

The combat is pretty old-fashioned. It is round-based, not active, which takes out some strategic elements like slowing down enemies or having to think quickly in what order you do what. It’s not bad, but together will the lacking animations, the uninteresting abilities (most class abilities are just “do damage” effects), it’s very forgettable. Elements play a role, but it’s too minor.

This leads to the next problem: advancing is way, waaay to slow. Enemies give very little experience. When you level up, almost nothing happens. You don’t feel stronger after gaining a few levels. New characters join at very low levels. A certain characters, who is in theory one of the best, joins in the third act of the game, but his level is so low that I didn’t manage to get him to decent strength till the end of the game. And while you have a ton of characters (who you can exchange even in combat), you have to train them all separately. That seems logical (why would they advance without fighting?), but leads to sticking with a fixed group of four and ignoring the rest. Or spend weeks training everybody.

Advancing in classes is slow, since you have to fight strong enemies to gain any skill points. Your heroes won’t master more than three or four classes anyway and those might just be classes to underline what they did anyway: more attacks for the strikers, more spells for the spellcasters. The classes are also imbalanced: some simply give stronger abilities than others. And almost every ability is just a new attack. Don’t expect any fancy abilities you can combine to create cool combos like in Final Fantasy V.

What makes the game even more boring is the exploring. The worlds and dungeons (there are several) are huge, but you usually have to get to a certain town or dungeon to continue. Be prepared to spend hours getting there.

These problems slow down DQ6 in an incredible way.

For the monsters: while they look good, they usually are way too random. In most games, you fight centaurs in a forest, skeletons in a dungeon and lizard men in a swamp; you get the idea. In DQ6, you fight weirdos like dogs with batwings carrying crossbows, tentacle men, all kinds of slimes, living furniture, insane jesters and other strange things all the time. While they aren’t totally random (e.g. you really fight more fish monsters underwater), they completely fail to give any dungeon a specific feeling or unique atmosphere.

While your characters have some interesting backgrounds, they barely talk. Most of the time, forgettable NPCs do the talking, and it’s usually “got to that dungeon to get that item” stuff. Don’t expect anybody to comment the fact that you just go to know that the world is on the edge of destruction.

Your main character has the JRPG mute hero syndrome. Maybe they wanted you to identify with him, but that doesn’t work at all because he has a very specific background (more specific than e.g. Crono from Chrono Trigger). The story is, as mentioned, solid, but the bits are few and far between. You can play for hours without progressing at all.

The ending is not bad, but it’s not worth the many, many hours of boredom getting there.

The Bottom Line

This game has just too many flaws. Some of them, like the menu and the extremely slow advancing characters, are simply inexcusable. They are simply dated, not "old school" or anything similar. In the time you need to finish DQ6 a couple of way better games can be completed. If it would be faster (for the small reward), I would recommend it, if it would be more rewarding (for the long time you spend playing it), I would recommend it, but it is simply not. Skip this one unless you’re a die-hard JRPG or DQ fan.